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X Factor runner-up steals Voice's thunder in ARIA charts

For now the air should be clear for The Voice, with that other singing show – The X Factor – off the radar and all attention focused on the chair-spinning musical melodrama.

But even though it's three months away from our screens, The X Factor has snaffled some attention from its higher-rating rival – albeit in the ARIA charts.

X Factor 2012 runner-up Jason Owen – remember him? Mel B's country boy-turned-handsome crooner – has leapt into the ARIA albums chart at No. 5 with his debut, Life Is a Highway.

As well as being a clever piece of timing by Sony Music Entertainment, the label that signs X Factor talent (rival label Universal signs up The Voice artists), Owen's surprisingly strong debut is a reminder of the potency of likeability.

So often last year Owen looked a little out of his depth against some very fine voices on The X Factor, but his apparent genuineness seemed to play a big part in him making the grand final. The show's 2012 winner, Samantha Jade, was a stronger singer than Owen, but she also rode the likeability bus – scoring a No. 1 single and No. 3 album.

Contrast this with one of the dominant narratives so far in season two of The Voice: the sympathy we feel for contestants on hearing of their life struggles. Think Harrison Craig, who stutters when he speaks; family man Michael Stangel, who suffered a brain tumour; Shawne Kirke, who requires crutches to walk after a near fatal childhood illness, and Luke Kennedy, whose career with the Ten Tenors was cut short by depression – all superbly talented singers, and all guaranteed to tug at the heart strings.


Indeed, Rachael Leahcar from the first season of The Voice also debuted her album this week, Romantique, at No. 13.

We're not suggesting the stories of these Voice competitors aren't for real (or that they are less than inspirational) – after all, The Voice out-rated The X Factor in 2012. But whether the appeal can be sustained is an interesting question.

Last week was a big week for current and former reality show contestants, with two Voice contenders in the top 50 singles: Celia Pavey was at No. 23 (with A Thousand Years), ahead of Craig at No. 40 (You Raise Me Up).

Several artists who have long since been relieved of their reality contestant tags also feature: 2004 Australian Idol runner-up Anthony Callea debuts at No. 18 in the album charts (with Thirty) and 2003 Idol winner Guy Sebastian remains in the top 50 with his former No. 1 album Armageddon.